Thousands sign online petition to remove Madison's bishop

MADISON (WKOW) -- There's an online petition being circulated to remove the Bishop of the Diocese of Madison.  

Bishop Robert Morlino is being criticized for his attitude about the LGTBQ community.  Earlier this week, an email was sent to priests in the diocese saying that they could deny funeral rights for those in same-sex partnerships.  

The diocese released a statement that said the communication is not official policy, but does meet the approval of Bishop Morlino.  

The petition was posted on Thursday and has thousands of signatures.  

Here is the statement from diocese on the matter, as submitted to Channel 27 News by Brent M. King, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Madison:

Below please find a brief statement from the Diocese of Madison, regarding questions and concerns arising from a recent communication with priests, on the subject of funeral rites for those in same-sex relationships. This is the only public statement that will be offered by the diocese at this time:

The communication attributed to Bishop Morlino was not an official diocesan policy, though it does conform with the mind of the bishop and meet his approval. No such policy could adequately cover every case, and it has always been the “policy” of the Diocese of Madison, on the matter of public funerals in general, that pastors are charged with addressing the particular situations of their people – whom they ideally know well and whom they have accompanied, even until their death. The communication, which took the form of a weekly e-mail to priests from the Vicar General of the diocese, was a result of pastoral questions asked by the priests themselves, and was to serve as a tool to provide some framework and considerations, in this confidential setting. Without a policy, and as the communication itself states, the priests are asked to “think through the issue thoroughly and prudently,” and this was a response to those who asked for assistance in their task – as well as other priests who might have similar situations and questions. It is lamentable that some who have willfully and flippantly spread gossip, rumor, and sadly even calumny, in recent days on this subject, have done so without asking the diocese for any clarification whatsoever. Likewise, those who place at risk the ability of the bishop to communicate with his priests confidentially do a grave harm to the Church and perform, indeed, what Sacred Scripture calls “a work of darkness.” 

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